Sogabe, a native of Kamakura, Japan, said she was “really glad to have made it.” Like most players at the collegiate level, “Hiro,” as she’s known to her teammates, began playing soccer at a young age.
This was Sogabe’s first full season with the Lady Trappers; her freshman season technically ended before it began due to a knee injury.
Sogabe had to save up money for two years — and had to reach out to many community colleges — before she could try realizing her dream of playing soccer in the United States. The enterprising player sent out 50 emails to coaches in the United States, and heard back from 25 of them.
Then-NWC head coach Rob Hill wound up recruiting Sogabe.
But at her very first pre-season scrimmage last year, Sogabe injured her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), “which is something you just don’t come back from right away,” NWC head women’s coach Jessica Lum explained. Instead of returning to her native Japan, Sogabe underwent surgery here in the states, rehabbing for a year to make her dream of playing for NWC a reality.
“Towards the end of spring last year, she was back on the field, Not 100 percent, but able to start playing again,” Lum said. Sogabe was then able to play for the Lady Trappers this fall.
It was a rebuilding season for the NWC team, which finished with a 0-10 record. Despite the adversity the team endured, however, Lum said Sogabe was a constant source of enthusiasm and a bright spot for her teammates.
“I think Hiroko [Sogabe] is very resilient, very determined,” Lum said last month. “She is always happy and positive and tries her best to communicate that to her teammates. The energy that she brings to our team is really positive. She’s very competitive too, she works hard and is out there to take the game seriously. She’s just a really positive influence on our team.”
Should Sogabe decide to continue playing soccer at the collegiate level, Lum said she certainly possesses the skill set to do so.
“She plays with great discipline, precision and intensity that is seen in few athletes,” Lum said. “This team relied on her energy and technical ability to control the midfield and make connections from defense to offense. Hiroko continually worked hard during practices and games regardless of the score showed a determination to win and play at the highest level.”
The coach said Sogabe “truly deserves” her spot on the second all-region team. Laramie County Community College placed the most players on the All-Region team with eight, including Player of the Year Nikita Woods and Freshman of the Year Taylor Stoeger.